Of course, these details are important, but simpler inquiries must be met before deciding to pursue a career in the field. What do electricians do, for instance. The answer, you’ll find, is a bit more complex than the question appears.
While it’s true electricians work with electrical systems, the actual tasks involved call for a much more detailed explanation. Check out the post below for more information on what it’s really like to work as an electrician.
What Electricians Do: Job Tasks and Responsibilities
Simply put, electricians install, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting and control systems. A typical introduction into the field involves either one-year training programs or two-year associate degree programs. Aspiring electricians may take part in this kind of education across a number of different trade schools or community colleges.
Electricians are able to enjoy the more formal title of Journeyman Electrician after completing four years of job training through an apprenticeship program. While a focus or concentration in a speciality area will demand a specific set of skills, all working electricians should be able to complete the following tasks:
- Read and interpret architect blueprints, circuit diagrams, and other technical documents
- Plan layouts for electrical wiring for new buildings (this includes positioning electrical outlets, lighting fixtures, heating outlets and ventilation systems)
- Install and maintain motors, switchboards as well as automated and electrical controls according to state and municipal codes
- Identify the proper electrical equipment to use when working on new or existing buildings
- Test, repair and maintain electrical equipment
- Connect electrical equipment and appliances
- Apply electrical specifications and electrical theory to determine job requirements
- Perform fault-finding by inspecting circuit breakers, transformers, and other electrical components
- Learn and abide by state & local regulations based on the national electrical code
- Train other electricians in specific tasks
- Explain electrical work and requirements to clients in layman’s terms
*We should also note that all wiring is identified by color. Electricians must be able to distinguish between colors to identify the special markings printed on the wiring insulation.
Different Types of Electricians
There are four specialty areas to choose from when pursuing a career as an electrician. These titles include: outside linemen, inside wiremen, installer technician and residential wiremen. Keep reading for a quick description of the different kinds of electricians below.
As the name suggests, these electricians work outdoors on electrical power line transmissions. They are responsible for making sure electrical wiring is properly functioning and that power is being properly distributed from generation facilities to end-users.
These electrical contractors work across industrial, commercial and residential markets. It is an extremely physical line of work. High voltage lineman may work on high-tension voltage lines positioned hundreds of feet above the ground.
These individuals must undergo extensive safety training, including climbing school and ongoing training performing high-angle rescues in case a fellow lineman is injured on the job.
There are a number of different job titles that fall under this category of electrician, including low-voltage electricians and residential, commercial and industrial electricians. These contractors are largely responsible for on-premises electrical wiring and distribution. In other words, they are responsible for connecting the client’s electrical equipment to the power source.
These electricians are often responsible for installing conduit, lighting fixtures and electrical outlets. They might be asked to inspect and maintain electrical motors and equipment or install alarm systems or electrical control panels. They are also expected to inspect, maintain and repair existing systems within a given facility.
Installation technicians work alongside inside wiremen to install a network of low voltage cabling used for video, voice or data outlets. Most of their work takes place indoors, though these electricians may be required to report to buildings which have not yet had air conditioning or heating systems installed.
Similar to the inside wireman, the residential wireman helps connect a client’s electrical equipment to the power source. Unlike the inside wireman, these electricians work to maintain the electrical systems in home or perform other types of residential installations.
The residential wireman must keep up with technical advancements across the residential market. They may need to install computer networks, energy management systems, security systems, fire alarm systems as well as distribution systems to lights and receptacles throughout the home.
Electrician Tools and Measuring Devices
Electricians rely on different types of electrical tools to perform inspection, maintenance and repair on electrical systems. Many are used to cut and shape electrical wire. Supplies for electricians may involve knives, hacksaws, pliers, wire strippers and a mix of hand tools. Electricians may use conduit benders to shape pipes or tubing into specific angles.
Electricians also depend on a number of instruments to measure currents, resistance and voltage to safely perform their duties. The kind of equipment electricians use to do so include ammeters, ohmmeters, voltmeters and oscilloscopes.
Electrician Schedule and Work Environment
An electrician’s work schedule may vary. Many electricians are able to find work all year round. Maintenance electricians often work regular hours which they can complete in a 40-hour work week. Most are able to enjoy time off at night, on weekends and holidays. That said, some may sign up for on-call jobs resolving urgent problems for some extra income.
On the other hand, independent electrical contractors and junior electricians usually maintain a more sporadic schedule. They may follow one busy week with just a few hours of work the next. These electricians enjoy much more flexibility and control over their schedule than other types of electricians.
Learn to Become an Electrician at New England Institute of Technology
What do electricians do? Find out at NEIT! Our on campus Associate Degree Program in Electrical Engineering integrates electrical theory and hands-on application. Students will also be given the opportunity to practice in our leading-edge industry labs taught under the instruction of experts. They will also be introduced to the study of industry theory, knowledge and hands-on training including:
- AC/DC theory
- AutoCAD electrical
- Industrial automation including PLCs, PACs, and HMIs
- Motors and motor control, including variable speed motor drives
- OSHA 10-hr. Construction Card
- Power and control circuit installation – including raceway design/build
- Power transmission, power supplies, and distribution & drives
- Renewable and sustainable energy – including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric power and hydrogen fuel cells
- True RMS voltmeters, power meters, OHM & AMP meters and Megger test equipment
Our training prepares graduates for a variety of careers in the field, like power system technicians, electrical research technicians, electrical distribution sales, electro-mechanical technicians, industrial/manufacturing automation technicians, field service engineers, commercial/industrial electricians and more. Other jobs and opportunities for aspiring electricians include:
- Aircraft Maintenance/Radar/Avionics
- Automation Technician
- Biomedical Equipment Technician
- Control Engineer
- Electro-Mechanical Technician
- Fiber-Optic Technician
- Nuclear Generator Test Service Technician
- Photovoltaic Installation Technician
- PLC/PAC Programmer
- Railroad Signal and Switch Operator
- Robot Production Technician
- Satellite Technician
- Specialized Marine Sonar Technician